Environmental Justice
Instructor: Ryan Heryford

In our own current historical moment, often referred to as an era defined by ecological crisis, when global climate change and resource scarcity are drastically altering the lives of a vast majority of the world’s people, where the term genocide now refers not only to aggressive acts of killing, but also to the exclusion of the many from the right to survival, why is it that in the United States, we often think of ‘environmentalism’ as a bourgeois, apolitical terrain, embedded in practices of corporate ‘green’-washing and a sustainability discourse that, as ecocritic Stacy Alaimo notes, more often than not works to “render the lively world a storehouse of supplies for the elite”? In this course, we will look at the way in which environmentalism as a ‘privileged’ space of activism has been challenged throughout the 20th and early-21st centuries by cultural texts documenting ecological harm and crisis as they continue to play out along uneven divides structured by gender, race, ethnicity, class and national/cultural difference. Focusing on a transnational range of contemporary cultural producers like Cherrie Moraga, June Jordan, Kelly Reichardt, Indra Sinha, and Amitov Ghosh, we will explore issues of the environment as they are inherently tied to questions of social activism and historical redress. We will encounter terms and fields of study such as environmental justice, eco-feminism, environmental racism, and critical species theory. Additionally, we will be concerned with how different cultural forms are able to articulate, what ecocritic Rob Nixon has referred to as, the slow violence of environmental catastrophe, highlighting “disasters that are slow moving and long in the making, disasters that are anonymous and that star nobody, disasters that are attritional and of indifferent interest to the sensation-driven technologies of our image saturated world.” In charting these different historical and cultural shifts, this course will ultimately work toward new definitions of environmentalism, ones similar to Graham Huggins and Helen Tiffin’s assertion that there is “no social justice without environmental justice; and without social justice – for all ecological beings – no justice at all.”

War and Peacekeeping
Instructor: Winifred Woodhull

Why are international "peacekeepers" generally drawn from the armed forces of various countries?  Are soldiers likely peacekeepers, considering that they are trained to kill and to act aggressively in many other ways?  Are men necessarily the best peacekeepers, as is generally assumed?

Further, is peacekeeping a "humanitarian" activity or is it sometimes a thinly disguised means of occupying and attempting to control a region or country?   What about peace-building?  Does it benefit from the economic and human resources, the legitimacy, and the prestige of making war and of enforcing the peace militarily? If not, why not?

What does peace-building entail, and whose interests does it usually serve?  Are women's primary concerns, such as gainful employment, political rights, and gender equality, as well as access to decent education and healthcare for themselves and for their children, well served by the established means of making and keeping the peace in former war zones?

These are some of the questions to be addressed in this course through the study of scholarly essays, journalism, literature, and film.   Students will do a 15-minute presentation on some course material and will write two 6-8 page papers as well as participating regularly in class discussion in an informed, thoughtful way.

Instructor: Sara Johnson

This seminar explores the complex system of relations between the transatlantic slave trade and the consequent rise and fall of the plantation complex in the extended Americas.  Focusing on the Age of Revolution, a tumultuous epoch marked by epistemic ideological shifts in Europe and her overseas colonies, the course examines the migration of ideas, tracing how revolutionary rhetoric flew back and forth across oceans and was tailored to met specific historic, social and economic circumstances.  For example, just as French revolutionaries were inspired by the United States' declaration of independence, so too were Caribbean colonial elites and slaves both influencing and responding to shifting metropolitan realities in complicated, violent negotiations for their own freedom and autonomy.  The fundamental conundrum: how could revolutionaries fighting in the name of liberty and equality justify the institution of chattel slavery and its mandate that men/women constitute the property of another? Was it economically feasible to dismantle a system whose profits financed global institutions?  More importantly, what measures were taken by slaves and free people of color not content to wait for others to decide their fates?   
Close attention is paid to questions of genre and rhetorical strategies as we trace the culture of political decrees (e.g. the Code Noir, the Declaration des Droits de L'homme et Citoyen and the Declaration des Droits des Citoyennes), polemical novels and the strident periodical press that polarized both proslavery and anti-slavery agendas.  How do these forms explore issues of maroonage, African “survivals,” and excise or re-inscribe people of color into debates about nation, citizenship and equality?  Primary source material from the late eighteenth to mid-nineteenth centuries is complemented by contemporary fictional musings and films concerning how to "make sense" of events that have left a profound impact on the social and aesthetic landscape of the present.  Influential historical and economic studies, in addition to visual images, provide secondary context.  Primary emphasis is placed on the Caribbean, although texts from both North and South America are included.  Authors include Mary Prince, Moreau de Saint-Méry, Leonora Sansay, Thomas Jefferson, Herman Melville, William Wells Brown, Cirilio Villaverde, C.L.R. James and Alejo Carpentier.
The course satisfies the department’s historical breadth requirement.

Latino History and Narration
Instructor: Rosaura Sanchez

The focus of this seminar will be on how Latino/a history is represented in several 20th and 21st century Latino/a - Chicano/a works of fiction. By reviewing theoretical works dealing with history and historicity, we will be better able to theorize and contextualize the texts in question. Recent work by Jameson on Realism will be key, but we will also examine a number of other theoretical texts that address how history is constructed and reconstructed in modernist and postmodernist novels and film.